As we've previously reported, Apple has spent millions on building two massive solar panel farms and a large fuel cell farm in Maiden, North Carolina. The farms generate about 10MW more power than needed by the company's large data center. Each solar farm generates 20MW of power and the fuel cell farm generates 10MW. The power is pumped into the grid as required by law, and then Apple uses the energy it needs from the grid. This saves Apple from needing a way to store the energy when the sun goes down and electricity is not being produced.
Apple's facilities are thought to have cost between $150 to $200 million to build and are the largest privately-owned clean energy facilities in the U.S.
Each solar panel on Apple’s farms has a microcontroller on its back, and the panels are attached to long, large trackers (the steel poles in the picture). During the day, the computers automatically and gradually tilt the solar panels so that the face of the panels follow the sun throughout the day. The [below] picture was taken in the late morning, so by the end of the day, the panels will have completely rotated to face where I was standing. The trackers used are single-axis trackers, which basically means they are less complex and less expensive than more precise dual-axis trackers.
Fehrenbacher goes into much more depth about the new clean energy farms and what it means for the energy and tech industries in the full report linked below.